Pretoria Hospital wins award for cutting treatment time for stroke patients to 15 minutes

CEO, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, along with the multi-specialty team comprising Neurology, Emergency and Radiology departments and the University of Pretoria, received the prestigious Diamond Stroke Award at the European International Stroke Congress cerebral 2022 held recently.

Gauteng Health via Twitter

  • Steve Biko University Hospital received the Diamond Stroke Award at an international congress.
  • The hospital has reduced treatment time for stroke patients from eight hours to just 15 minutes.
  • Accelerated treatment resulted in shorter hospital stays and less strain on resources.

Time is running out when treating a stroke patient, says the head of Steve Biko University Hospital’s Neurology Department, Professor Mandisa Kakaza.

That’s why the hospital cut patient treatment time from eight hours to just 15 minutes – a move that won it a prestigious international award.

The Diamond Stroke Award was presented to the hospital during the European International Stroke Congress 2022, by an international stroke treatment advocacy group, Angels. The hospital’s stroke unit is the first and only internationally accredited unit of its kind in South Africa.

The award recognized the progress the hospital has made in reducing the disabling effects of strokes and preventing deaths from strokes. The new treatment approach means that patients are more likely to be independent and remain economically active after a stroke.

But the move to fast-tracking patients has come at more than just a price. Because patients are treated faster, long-term brain damage is reduced and patients need less recovery time in hospital, according to Kakaza.

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Most strokes are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from flowing to part of the brain. Lack of blood can cause brain tissue to die within minutes. Because brain tissue does not regenerate, the damage sustained during a stroke can be permanent.

During this type of stroke, the area surrounding the stroke site may experience reduced blood flow – but if doctors act quickly to dissolve the blockage, damage to the surrounding area can be significantly reduced, Kakaza says .

For patients eligible for acute treatment, the average hospital stay fell from about 33 days to six days.

This not only saves the hospital money, but also frees up beds for other patients, says Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi of Gauteng Health MEC.

Mokgethi adds:

I congratulate the Steve Biko University Hospital team for this worldwide recognition. This award is a testament to the hard work of many men and women in our healthcare system, who go above and beyond the call of duty to find ways to improve patient care.

Last year, the team at the Stroke Unit redesigned the care of stroke patients, with the aim of ensuring that patients regain their autonomy.

This is particularly important in a South African context, where stroke patients are often still economically active.

“We see, on average, two to three stroke patients a day. This is a heavy burden on society. In many developing countries, strokes tend to affect people over the age of 65. However, in South Africa we have non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity.In South Africa, the average age of stroke victims is around 40 years old.

“If you are 40 and have a stroke, you may find yourself with weakness on one side of your body and unable to return to work. You cannot care for your family and depend on others for care. That’s the burden we’re trying to reduce,” says Kakaza.

In addition to speeding up patient turnaround times, the hospital has increased training for junior healthcare workers to help them quickly identify stroke patients in the emergency room and has implemented a system to better store data for research purposes.

The hospital is also partnering with Boston University in America to implement a rapid AI tool that will enable faster and better interpretation of CT scan images.

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“It’s about treating patients as quickly as possible,” she says.

Kakaza hopes the lessons learned by the hospital can be widely applied to improve stroke care, especially since the country has few neurology specialists.

“Our training is world class, but the number of training positions is two small. It takes four years to train a neurologist, but we only have four training positions. So basically, one neurologist graduates per year “, she says.

And with neurologists concentrated in urban and metropolitan areas, rural towns very often don’t have specialists available – and with the time needed to treat stroke patients, traveling to the nearest town can take a long time. life threatening.

“The distinction we have received in such a short time encourages us to continue striving to improve the care of our patients. It is recognition that Steve Biko University Hospital is on the right track. proof that when departments in the hospital work together, we can accomplish more than when we work separately,” says Kakaza.


About Antoine L. Cassell

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